The ever more interesting singer-songwriter Trent Reznor cryptically teased a Nine Inch Nails release in 2016 leading to the December release of a five-song EP, Not the Actual Events, tied to his apparent new physical media obsession.
Reznor has released, alongside the Nine Inch Nails new EP, high-quality vinyl reissues of his entire catalogue sold directly from his web store, the only place where Not the Actual Events can be purchased. If you can’t afford the vinyl (or live in Canada and can’t afford the shipping), Reznor will ship you a “Physical Component” for free if you buy the digital copy for $12.00 U.S. Dollars.
This is an interesting and bold move for Reznor, who has had a very notable relationship with digital music since the beginning of his career. He has released albums for free download, has recently been discussing music piracy and is now charging what seems like a high price for a digital copy of an EP, presumably to compensate for the shipping and production of the unknown “Physical Component”.
Although Reznor has had several releases in the past few years, this is the first Nine Inch Nails release since 2013’s Hesitation Marks which earned generally positive reviews but was not the band’s best work. Not the Actual Events seems to be an enjoyable addition to the catalogue and has more variety than Hesitation Marks.
Songs like “Dear World,” and “She’s Gone Away” show Reznor experimenting with ideas and effects previously untouched by Nine Inch Nails and revisiting old ground with “Branches Bones” and “The Idea of You”. Interestingly, “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)” appears to explore a somewhat bluesy industrial tone, similar to Marilyn Manson’s 2015 comeback album The Pale Emperor.
Overall, Not the Actual Events and a focus on physical media appears to usher in a new era for Nine Inch Nails and Reznor, certainly being an admirable and welcome entry into the project’s discography.